More minute

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It doesn’t sound quite right, does it?

I have thought… you might be forgiven for asking if I ever even do anything else πŸ™‚

The answer is yes, plenty, thank you very much πŸ™‚

But nevertheless I have thought of even more minute stuff that shapes my life, whether by giving me that little burst of joy or, on the other side of the coin, annoyance πŸ™‚

For example, knowing a secret that is currently enriching someone else’s life.

Planning an overnight trip to a museum so that the little one could see dinosaurs.

An unexpected change of plan that makes me wonder about what could possibly go on in that person’s mind.

Sitting down to an inocuous discussion which allows me unfettered access into a difficult brain with a matching personality.

News about a friend’s good luck that will also make our lives easier and better.

Reading rubbish which nonetheless makes you aware of certain facts, which then in turn pleasantly surprise a friend.

An inefficiently arranged house which then gets dirty.

Accepting that my feelings aren’t mirrored.

Writing poetry, especially after a long break.

Wondering about the name of a plant, only to have a colleague mentioning it in a completely unrelated context.

Discussing choice, predestination, permaculture and why we usually do not eat felines during the same walk.

Seeing feijoas planted on public domain.

Stepping barefoot onto the soft remains of flowers that appear red from a distance but are actually pink on a closer look.

Lacking motivation to do anything of what needs to be done.

Receiving a certificate – now needing a frame to match the favourite colours of the people who helped me achieve it.

Planting a flower, then figuring out that I actually needed another one but realizing that the two will actually go well together anyway.

More positives than not I notice… πŸ™‚

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Tenderness

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It comes, unsurprisingly, from Latin. What may be surprising is the root: it means to have, hold, possess. It’s an ownership term, really, and it raised my interest because, as it happens with old words, we do not use it in that sense. We use the word for something that is fragile, young, delicate or for a feeling of deep affection that makes us smile at our happiness.

I can possibly reconcile the first meaning with the root, as usually the things we have/hold are smaller, more fragile than ourselves. I am also used to diminutives and even diminutives of diminutives – they sound sweet, truly πŸ™‚ – especially around children (smaller, more delicate, fragile).

I cannot reconcile the second meaning though, not to that root. It would be interesting to know how it got there. Maybe the ownership is reversed, do you think? Maybe the object of our tenderness actually has a hold of us, and we enjoy our servitude?

Tenderness in this form leads, if you’re the impulsive type (like me) to the blurting out of certain facts of life (like β€œI love you”), most of the time in the middle of conversations that have nothing much to do with feelings. It’s a welling up of feeling, you see, it was always there but then that object of tenderness says something so lovely that you can’t help yourself and you have to let them know of the link.

Even if the situation puts a muzzle on the words though, tenderness is one of those feelings that calls out for more of the same. Unlike romantic love, where pain is almost implied in the process, tenderness leans more towards agape, about as pure as any human feeling can get, and so pain is bypassed which makes you feel safe, which then leads to you wanting more tenderness and so you put yourself in situations where you are likely to get this. In other words, you seek out both the feeling and the people who have offered this in the past.

Tenderness is an indulgent feeling, there is a luxuriating qulaity to it that I believe stems from that feeling of safety I mentioned above. This is what I mean by the hold being reversed. If we are safe, then it follows that some walls can come down, that we do not have to prove so much, be so active or try to decide how far to go. We do not have to impress therefore we can relax, be vulnerable and understand ourselves as small, rather than the larger than life bias we usually see ourselves through.

We offer tenderness usually to children, youth, pets, the elderly and sometimes baby gods. Basically, the ones on the brink of change (to grown-ups, to human, to death, to power).

When it comes to receiving tenderness though, sometimes we identify the lack before defining it. Something may be missing from a relationship that we have in another. We wish and ask for it (let’s just cuddle on the couch, anybody?), we model it, we grieve when we don’t get it and yet we get embarassed when we see it (PDA? It’s in our DNA πŸ˜› ). Contrary creatures that we are!

Now, what to do about those who have never felt tenderness? Where will they learn?

Time

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No, it’s not Latin, at least not directly. It is Old Germanic and related to tide, much as it helps us, as we cannot actually define time without running around in circles biting our tails (Ouroboros or a frisky dog, depending how seriously you want to take the notion). We can devise tools, sometimes very precise ones, to measure it, but as to what it is, well, no one really knows for sure. Is it finite or infinite? Does it flow, jump, stay or renew itself? Is the future coming to you or are you moving towards the future? Is the past unchangeable? Can time be traveled other than in memory?

We know we try to manipulate the time continuum (is it a continuum all by itself or does space gather there as well?). St Augustine thought that we have all the tools we need for time: we simultaneously grasp the past in memory, the present by attention, and the future by expectation.

Remember that old Greek myth of Khronos (personification of time) eating his children and them remaining alive and unharmed (gods, therefore immortal, and bound by prophecy – which is therefore stronger than time?) in the vastness of their father’s reach. We seem to be in time, but are we time as well? Is time sequential or, like we can in memory, escape into possibility?

Time can also struggle along even if we seem to have lost a limb of it. An amnesiac still has a present and a future, someone with short memory loss will remember his childhood and can plan for the future, an infant seems to live in an eternal past-present, with nary a thought for the future.

So many questions, for something we take so much for granted and that seems such a simple concept.

A few things seem to be outside of time. An example would be the strong feelings humans can experience. We feel those, they relate to an extant object (person, country etc.), and yet they transcend time. It is as if that relationship makes and marks its own time, limited and yet wider than the usual continuum. When we feel strongly we can work, dream, eat, raise children and follow our pathway in our time, and yet a small part of us counts a different set of seconds, one that is not ours but belongs to that object and that connects us to that object when distance alone might not make it.

And should that clock falter, our very essence is at risk.

Quality

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There are many things I admire in people. Some are qualities, others are skills (it’s difficult to differentiate between them though…). Don’t get me started on talking about qualia or we’ll be here until tomorrow! πŸ™‚

Some of the qualities I admire I also strive to encourage in myself. Others, as I know very well, will be forever out of my reach, I can only admire them and try not to envy πŸ™‚

Bravery is probably the first on any of my lists. I don’t mean daring feats and adventurous inclinations, although they are brave and I am grateful for the freedom they bring to those of us left behind. Most brave acts though are nothing special to anyone else. It comes down to choice of action actually, not always taking the easy way for yourself. Some would say that immigration is brave, and yet I never considered mine so because I did it for love, and where’s the bravery in that? But when a relationship doesn’t work and you are gearing yourself to tell him so, and you make scenarios in your head and you know for sure that an easy way would be to just behave badly and get dumped… but instead you gather your courage, walk those steps and tell him straight that it’s not working out and you don’t want to be together anymore… well, I admire that!

Keeping your word comes very close on the tails of bravery. I don’t set much store by honesty in itself as too often it is not feasible, desirable or practical. Ideally it is a great thing, but there are too many people for that ideal to work. It is all I can do to keep lying to a minimum and try very hard not to lie to myself too much. I expect people in general to lie, prevaricate, avoid, evade or distract from the truth and that is a survival mechanism linked to personal interest. I won’t pretend I am not hurt by it and maybe I am too cynical, not too mention vain enough to accept lies at face value. I may not consider looks to be very important but I still won’t like to be told I am fugly πŸ™‚ But keeping one’s word, that I insist on.

Kindness is such an overarching subject, I don’t even know where to start defining it. It has a lot to do with empathy, understanding, acceptance but true kindness feels personal and that is what I am looking for. I have no desire for charity in the pity sense or even in the general sense of β€œyou are people and I love all people”. If you are kind, then be kind to me, not to my species. If you are kind, then be happy when you are with me. If you are kind, then pay attention to me, not to your God or Goddess who prescribed kindness for you. Selfish, ain’t I? πŸ™‚

Wisdom is another difficult one. Intellect in itself is rather off-putting for me, unless some of the above qualities round up the edges a bit. Analysis is all very well when you have a problem but logic only takes you so far when it comes to feelings, and that is what I am about. Experience comes close, in that the sheer quantity of life happening over years carries a attraction. But the learning that comes to some from that experience, ah, that is priceless! It is not guaranteed – how many of us repeat our mistakes? But when it happens, I could gladly stay and listen for ages, then come back again and again, never tiring, always trying to find ways to repay the lessons I am receiving.

Qualities… have I even scratched the surface?